It’s been a long time since you talked about your animal friends.
You’re back in the big city now and it seems that I’ve followed you,
from islands and islands away.
So it came as a surprise to hear you write about the birds
that scampered across your neighbor Greg’s roof.
I wondered who they were this time.
Your friends always took animal forms when they drop by.
On that same day, two gorions perched on the atis trees outside my window-
eight kilometers away.
They sang a tune and flew off without delay.
The absence they left was as heavy as they were light, taking off in a split second-
just. like. that.
And I wondered if you felt the same way when the birds finally dispersed
from your neighbor’s roof.
You see, we scrimp on visitations these- these days.
These visions that spell out messages from mother universe
in the guise of nature’s agents.
Once, in another time, we wallowed in their abundance.
But this is the city- where nature is no resident-
only a guest, not even a welcome one.
There are no mountains for us to hide on
No trees to catch the wind that takes our thoughts so high up
we could breathe in the sky and touch the moon.
No pathways in the forest for us to discover in exhilaration.
So it appears that we must learn. Learn to hold nature inside of us.
Create a silence within.
Here, we must carve mountains in our hearts,
soar in the sky within our lungs, and walk in the hidden pathways of our minds
where it is so quiet, we can hear trees talk to one another.
We must hold time with our bare hands now.
The moon has no power here. It can no longer stop time for us.
As you watch a meeker moon rise from Greg’s roof now turning black with the night,
you write: It is impossible to die.
And in my isolation, eight kilometers away, I reply: but it is possible to be dead.
That is why living is also impossible-
if living meant more than just meals, chores, and transportation.
But on the other hand, it is possible to be alive.
And this is the possibility we must celebrate.
That we are alive and most of all, we are alive TOGETHER-
highways, houses, buildings, vendors, beggars,
pedestrians, trains, cab s, jeepneys, buses
and walls and walls of concrete apart.
Yet still, the stillness of a mountain in our hearts,
an ever clear sky in our lungs,
and ancient trees rustling, brushing against memory,
caressing our tired, old, sad, funny souls.
One breath is all it takes to say hello again.
For Denisa Reyes, on her birthday.
back to Poetry